We have a few new items, replacements that we needed to make while we were stateside. Not wanting any surprises in a negative sense once we hit the mountains of Colombia and beyond, a shakedown mini-camping tour is just what we needed.
We utilized a website http://www.freecampsites.net and hoped to do mostly free camping or wild camping.
Our first site was superb. It was called Neches Bluff, coordinates 31.5673910, -95.1634620 This area has a number of places where you can camp and includes one pit toilet. It appears to be an area very busy during hunting season on the weekends, but we were there mid week and had the place to ourselves. We chose a very large site with a bit stone fire ring. Finding a good source of hickory wood, we built an incredible fire and cooked our supper over the open flames. Coyotes sang to us throughout the night as did the owls.
We departed in the morning heading for yet another free site at Lake Limestone. 31.4481370, -96.3774730 I had never heard of this lake but there were three sites listed. We checked out each one and settled on the 3rd site. The camping was incredible. There was a couple of fishermen than came and went but for the most part we had the place to ourselves. We walked around a bit, walked the shoreline of the lake and checked out the one bathroom. It was not in the best condition but it was useable. I had to laugh at the sign posted in the womens bathroom to cover a broken front window. It seems that they have a weight limit on ladies using their potty. One of our Thermarest pads has a leak and we attempted to find the leak, no luck. Tonight we will try and make sure the valve is secure, maybe that’s all it is. We spotted a Great Horned Owl and it along with 3 others sang to use through the night. We did hear coyotes a long ways away but for the most part, tonight was a night for the owls. There is a fire grill smoker looking thing at each site and we built a fire in the firebox. Supper was potatoes, sweet potatoes and sausage. We ended the evening sipping Baileys Irish Creme, watching the sun set over the lake. Beyond beautiful!
It froze last night and was quite cool this morning when we ate breakfast and drank our coffee.
The air mattress leaked again, there is no doubt there is a leak in it. Hopefully we can find it tonight.
Our driving route took us through Waco, Texas and we discovered Cameron Park. It has over 20 miles of hiking trails and we enjoyed about 5 miles of them. In addition, we had a wonderful picnic lunch.
Freecampsites.net is not infallable; our first choice was at Lake Witney which claimed to have several free areas available. We discovered upon arrival that the park has open/closed hours, it also had an on site park host and very prominent No Camping signs posted. To really use the freecampsites website, you have to do your homework as some of the sites are not listed right or out of date. Rather than push our luck, we opted to head for Meridian State Park and pay a fee tonight.
We checked into Meridian State Park into site#30. It is a primitive site and we had the entire side of the lake to ourselves. It was wonderful. We were greeted by a large hawk and it kept close eye on us the entire time we were there. There are fire pits and we gathered up some cedar to make a beautiful fire.
What a fabulous night last night, coyotes were close and sang to us. We finally found the hole in the thermarest, it is on the bottom. While we were eating breakfast we got a message from friends in Colombia, seems we still had 4G network at the park. They are also having thermarest issues. We were planning a trip into Georgetown, TX to REI to buy repair stuff for our thermarest. We also now needed to buy a replacement pad for them. Morning coffee was awesome, we replaced our worn out filter with a new unit that will double as a funnel. This collapsable piece is working better than we could have imagined. In addition, our new coffee cups work like a charm.
We packed up and headed for the shower house, a perk with the pay campsite. It felt so awesome to have a hot shower and be able to get scrubbed clean. Now for the drive to REI.
New things are always coming out and while we were at REI we looked into the different pads. We ended up buying 2 new pads for Curtis and I. These weigh a fraction of what our big ones weigh and a lot smaller in size. We are going to ditch the thermarests and go with the REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad.
Our fourth and final night of camping was again a free site. Camp Creek Recreation Area near Smithwick, TX https://www.lcra.org/parks/Pages/camp-creek.aspx
We set up under a huge pecan tree and this was so beautiful. Doves ate cracked pecans on the driveway, squirrels were busy storing up nuts for the upcoming winter. We enjoyed a small box of wine on this last night of camping. Our fire was made from old pecan limbs and burned hot. After supper we curled up on our new pads and listened to the night sounds. I love camping, the sounds and the fresh air, the peace and freedom it allows.
The campsite next to us was home to a 22 year old woman from Amsterdam. She is a traveler, exploring the US before heading out to Panama around New Year’s. Meet Silver, an extrodinary young traveler with a zest for life. I love meeting these young people. Travel and exploring the world is such an incredible learning experience. All people should get out and travel, 3 months, 6 months, a year, however long. It is sad to see so few American travelers. I have heard these words, “It’s not proper”, “You need to be working”, “You can’t take the time off”, “It’s too dangerous”. HOGWASH and bullshit!
I embrace my new title of traveler. I embrace the different cultures I get exposed to. People are people no matter what part of the world and I only wish I had discovered the joys and excitement that traveling shows us.
Get off your couch, do something new, take a chance, LIVE!